Malnutrition Stalks Gaza, Peace Eroded and Israeli Soldiers Talk About the Occupied Territories
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip continues, delivery of aid has again been choked off to the region, and Hamas has warned it may drop the 5 month long truce following the latest blockade and Israeli attacks within Gaza.
Economic collapse and malnutrition are two heads of the monster stalking Gaza. These problems are not new to the region.
The BMJ medical journal published a survey in 2002 indicating that, in the Gaza Strip, “13% of children under 5 years old were suffering from short term malnutrition and almost 18% had long term malnutrition—compared with a level of about 2% in countries that the World Health Organization defines as having moderate malnutrition.” Things are bad when almost a third of children under 5 suffer from malnutrition.
For more information on the history of malnutrition in Gaza, the military history of sieges, codes of war regarding civilians and their relation to the blockade of Gaza you can read an earlier post from this site titled the ‘Siege of Gaza’.
Meanwhile the continued expansion of Israeli settlements threatens the very foundation of a possible peace by eroding the viability of a sustainable Palestinian state. Haaretz carries an interview with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, who warns that:
Israel’s refusal to cease construction in the settlements immediately would spell the end of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiations with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. He said he was amazed that instead of working toward halting the construction, Livni on Sunday protested to her British counterpart, David Miliband, about London’s decision to tighten restrictions on importing goods produced in the settlements.
Three days ago I posted a short video documentary made by a retired Israeli soldier who was active in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. This video interviewed Israeli soldiers who were active during the First Intifada.
I’d like to provide more context to the Occupation, this time with a snapshot from the Second Intifada. Veteran Israeli soldiers have set up an organization and website that displays videos and written testimonies from Israeli soldiers as well as news regarding the Occupied Territories. The site is called Breaking the Silence.
Here is an excerpt from the site:
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifadah. Soldiers who serve in the Territories are witness to, and participate in military actions which change them immensely. Cases of abuse towards Palestinians, looting, and destruction of property have been the norm for years, but are still excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases. Our testimonies portray a different and grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regardind Palestinian civilians. These demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military. While this reality which is known to Israeli soldiers and commanders exists in Israel’s back yard, Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that which happens in its name. Discharged soldiers who return to civilian life discover the gap between the reality which they encountered in the Territories, and the silence which they encounter at home. In order to become a civilian again, soldiers are forced to ignore their past experiences. Breaking the Silence voices the experiences of those soldiers, in order to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created.